Review: 'Tom and Jerry' are still at it, same as it ever was

The animated cat and mouse duo are still chasing after one another in Tim Story's colorful comic adventure

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

No matter the decade, setting or circumstance, Tom and Jerry are gonna be Tom and Jerry. 

So it goes with "Tom & Jerry," the latest adventure of the cat and mouse team who have been going after each other, in various incarnations, for 80 years. The bright, colorful "Tom & Jerry" brings the cartoon duo into the real world, and even if it never amounts to much more than a series of escalating hijinks, it provides a fair amount of laughs outside the antics of its namesake duo.

The animated duo Tom and Jerry in "Tom & Jerry."

"Tom & Jerry" unfolds in a world where all animals are cartoons. There is no explanation given for this — there wasn't an explosion at the cartoon factory that let the animals loose, at least that we're made aware of — it's just the way it is, and no one bats an eye. 

Our cat (that's Thomas D. Cat) and mouse (Jerry A. Mouse, pleased to make your acquaintance) find themselves in New York City and hole up at a ritzy hotel where a fancy wedding is about to take place between two society types, Ben ("SNL's" Colin Jost) and Preeta (Pallavi Sharda).

Meanwhile, the street smart Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) has just conned her way into a job on the hotel's staff, and she has taken on the assignment of ridding the building of its mouse problem (i.e., Jerry) before the Big Event. Her solution: she teams up with Tom to exterminate the mouse. (If it was that easy, Tom would have finished the job back in 1940, when the Hanna-Barbera duo first debuted.)

Things get crashed, smashed and animal tornados ensue, and it doesn't take a genius to guess that as soon as the hotel's glorious glass atrium is gazed upon, it's only a matter of time before it comes raining down on the floor below. 

At least the cast has fun, and Rob Delaney ("Catastrophe," Twitter) is fully in on the joke as a square hotel manager. Director Tim Story ("Barbershop," "Ride Along"), meantime, hips things up: he runs a '90s hip-hop current through the film — a group of animated pigeons perform A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It?" at the outset of the film; later, Tom and Jerry destroy a hotel room while Eric B. and Rakim's "Don't Sweat the Technique" pulsates over the soundtrack — which makes this arguably the coolest version of "Tom & Jerry" to date. 

It's still limited in its scope — it's hard to make "Tom & Jerry" more than "Tom & Jerry" — but at least it's adaptable. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Tom & Jerry'

GRADE: B-

Rated PG: for cartoon violence, rude humor and brief language

Running time: 101 minutes

In theaters and on HBO Max